Sunday Night Links

As the frozen moon called North America upon which many of our readers live continues to darken, its daylight progressively emaciated and its nights positively steroidal, your cortex needs food. Here are some links. Take, eat. Stay warm.

  • Advertisements that use kids to sell grown-up commodities like cars and cable packages are repulsive. Just look at this and this, and try to ignore that sad, green revulsion mushrooming in your chest. “We want more, we want more.” Or don’t, and just take our word for it. An Urban Outfitters ad for cancer-style skinny jeans wouldn’t be much worse.
  • David Foster Wallace could be a bad TV guest, like many (maybe most) writers. If you tend to consider your words and think about whether the complicated answer you are about to give is plausible, then most TV hosts won’t know what to do with you. But when Wallace sat down with a German station in 2003 the results, which are on YouTube, were riveting. Here is the man himself talking about how pleasure within market societies can be a form of slavery; and here he is admitting how small the demand for serious writing is, compared to the immensity of the American fear of silence; and later homie gets to the paranoid wastage of the Bush years.
  • There is plenty more Wallace material on YouTube and for cheap on the usual book-buying sites, so do your brain a favor and stop watching Glee or reading Twitter or buying linen scarves or whatever, because as long as people read English, people will read Wallace. Chances are that reading him will make you at least a little happier. He’s consistently on the aesthetic and thematic level of his gregarious, crowd-loving forebears (e.g. Austen, Dickens, Faulkner, Pynchon, Rabelais, Dostoevsky), which is rare enough; most writers are just lucky to occasionally do something comparable to what an influential presence did. He’s one of those writers whose work gives enormous pleasure to a lot of well-read people. As such, anyone who dismisses his work outright (which is very different from saying that you don’t personally like his work*) is likely a pedant whose opinions aren’t worth listening to. Samuel Johnson is right: if a book is long esteemed, it is good, to the extent that we can ever define “good.”
  • Unfortunately we live in a USA where writers have to remind people that public colleges should be free for Americans prepared for college-level work. A democracy must be seriously deranged if its members have trouble with that principle, but many Americans are only OK with spending public funds on simultaneous trillion-dollar wars in multiple theaters. This means that the USA has some serious problems, given the current national acceptance of five-figure in-state tuition bills and leagues of alumni who carry five- or six-figure debt loads. But that shit has a righteous foe in Sarah Kendzior, whose work you should follow. It is great: American higher-education systems may have gutted their faculty (the loan racket helped), but many of the castaways are vicious writers. Have hope. TGR is roping together some logs in the ship’s wake.
  • High art is not always pleasant. (Just ask anyone who has looked at a Francis Bacon.) I say this because someone recently put together a file of every “YEEAH-UUH!” that Metallica’s frontman James Hetfield has ever barked, snarled, rasped, or sneered. Though conceptually beautiful, it might drive you insane after 45 seconds. Seriously, don’t listen too closely unless you are already a metalhead.

* I don’t like Austen, just as I dislike Woolf’s novels (besides Mrs. Dalloway), but  I wouldn’t pretend that either isn’t worth reading for a person wanting to know more about the canon.


One thought on “Sunday Night Links

  1. Pingback: Sunday Links: Land of Little Rain | The General Reader

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